There are so many things out there we need to consider investing in to grow our businesses or side-hustles. We need good equipment to get quality photographs or videos. We need some sort of software to edit videos or audio content for things such as podcasts. My goal today will be to run you through several tools I recommend and use frequently in my business and personal life.
You’ve invested in some equipment and it’s time to discuss software. If you want to reference my equipment recommendations again, you can check them out here. I’m assuming that you probably already have a basic laptop or desktop computer. If not, please consider making an investment in that as there are still many things that are difficult to do on tablets or mobile. I’m personally eyeing Macbooks, as I’ve always been intrigued, but I still haven’t managed to break up with PC yet.
Software is tricky because there are multiple options and various pros and cons all over the place. Paid is usually better, but there are many valuable services also available to you for free. I’ll highlight a bunch of software or online tools I personally use, what they do, and how they’ll benefit you no matter what it is that you are working on.
I’m not currently paying for a lot of software just yet, so my investment costs are very low. A lot of tools out there also have tier pricing where they offer free as well as paid versions with varying features depending on price.
TLDR Version: Build websites that are SEO optimized for free. There are also various paid versions with varying features.
Create a free website or easily build a blog on WordPress.com. WordPress offers hundreds of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes. It also offers free hosting and support. This is what my websites Flexthetics.com and ChrisBello.com are built on.
There is a free version, but there are also other paid tiers where you can get more features depending on what you’re looking for such as extra storage.
There are other options as well such as Wix.com, Weebly.com, and Shopify.com , but WordPress is extremely easy to use and much more SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, so that your website can be found easily by others.
TLDR Version: Easily build great looking, converting sales funnels to drive traffic to via ads. Free 14-day trial, and then $97 a month after that for the Startup Package.
Use ClickFunnels to quickly create high-converting marketing & sales funnels. If you don’t know what a sales funnel is, don’t worry. I had no clue either. Russell Brunson, a ClickFunnels founder, has tons of great videos on the site and on an email sequence where you learn how easy it is. As people move through the funnel, they’re getting closer to becoming a paying customer.
Let’s say 600 people see your ad. Out of that, maybe 10% click the link to download your free PDF or eBook. So, 60 people now enter their email address to get your free gift. You then make the offer for your paid product or service. Out of the 60 people in your funnel, you may have 5% that ultimately convert (3 people). If your product sells for $197, that’s $591 in revenue. Obviously, the goal is to increase your conversion rates to get more people taking your free offer and ultimately your paid one, as well.
Still confused? This funny video from ClickFunnels does a great job explaining it.
ClickFunnels offers a free 14-day trial, and is then $97 monthly for the Startup Package. They offer an upgraded package with other tools called Actionetics and Backpack for $297 a month. I personally am using the Startup Package and finding a ton of value. It might seem high to pay this if you are a startup but think of how much you can get in return from using amazing tools? This is a business expense. For that reason, I didn’t hesitate for a second to sign up full-time after I used the 14-day trial and saw the potential. “You’re only one funnel away” as Russell says.
TLDR Version: Utilize email automation to send messages to various subscriber lists (the only work you need to do is the initial content creation, then it’s autopilot). Completely FREE if your subscriber list is below 2,000 and you’re sending 12,000 emails or less a month.
MailChimp provides marketing automation for e-commerce businesses. Send beautiful emails, connect your e-commerce store, advertise, and build your brand.
To be honest, I signed up for MailChimp months before I ever dug in and learned the ropes. It ended up being quite easy to use and integrate with other tools such as ClickFunnels and WordPress. The best part is that it is free if your list is below 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. This way, you can keep it free until you reach a point where it makes sense to pay. If you grow it to above 2,000 subscribers, chances are, what you’re doing is working so you should continue.
TLDR Version: Email automation to send unlimited campaigns and newsletters to your subscribers. The lowest tier allows you to send emails to up to 1,000 contacts for just $25/month.
I have considered using SendLane after reading The Circle Of Profit by SendLane Co-Founder Anik Singal. On a side note, this book was amazing and so helpful in understanding step-by-step how to create a sales funnel and drive converting traffic to it. Check it out if you really want to open your eyes to the possibilities sales funnels can unlock. The book has “video breaks” where you can go to a link and watch a quick video to recap or further explain certain things.
TLDR Version: Get access to tons of high-quality, copyright-free photos, all for free.
This is my go-to site for high quality, copyright-free photos. In fact, many of my blog posts and some social media posts have pictures I’ve found on Unsplash. You can give credit to photographers if you like as a way of showing appreciation, but it isn’t required.
TLDR Version: Break free from reaching out to your graphic designer with this easy to use software. You can pay for some premium content, but you get amazing value and can get by on the free version alone as well.
This has been a true game changer for me and has made me much less reliant on my graphic designer friend. There are a few premium things you can pay for, but you get so much valuable uses with the free options. You can create banners, Facebook Ads, YouTube video thumbnails, logos and so much more, all for free.
TLDR Version: High quality, paid video editing / screen recording software. Sign-up for the basic option for $129.
ScreenFlow is basically the Camtasia version for the Mac. This was highly recommended by Anik Singal in the book I mentioned earlier, but I do not own a Mac and have not experienced the software yet myself.
Video Editing Software
Windows Movie Maker
TLDR Version: Free video editing software for windows. Enough to get by for basic video editing.
Windows Movie Maker is a discontinued video editing software by Microsoft. It is a part of Windows Essentials software suite and offers the ability to create and edit videos as well as to publish them. If you have it on your computer, consider checking it out. If not, you’ll have to use another program.
While many may roll their eyes at this basic video editor, I’ve used this for nearly all of my video editing for years and have few complaints. If you just need basic editing functions such as splitting or trimming footage, check this out.
TLDR Version: Free video editing software for Mac. Great tool for video editing.
iMovie is a video editing software application sold by Apple Inc. for the Mac and iOS.
I have seen my Mac-using friends edit footage on iMovie and it looks extremely user-friendly and easy to manage. Mac users, check this out and see if it suits your needs prior to paying for expensive software.
TLDR Version: Free video editing software for GoPro footage. Can work well but sometimes crashes.
Free software if you have a GoPro to edit footage. My version has crashed on me several times, but I still try to use it when I have a manageable amount of video to edit from my GoPro. It tends to mainly crash if you upload way too much footage. Maybe that’s because my computer isn’t powerful enough, or maybe it’s because it’s a free software.
You can do a few more neat things with this than with many other free editors, such as change video filters and color schemes.
TLDR Version: Royalty-free music! Just leave credit.
NoCopyrightSounds is a record label dedicated to releasing FREE music for the sole purpose of providing creators with the finest sounds to enhance the creativity and popularity of their content, safe from any copyright claims or infringement.
Don’t forget to leave credit where credit is due:
NCS Music is free to use for independent Creators and their UGC (User Generated Content) on YouTube & Twitch – please remember to credit the artist, track and NCS and link back to our original upload.
TLDR Version: Royalty-free music! Just leave credit.
Free music (copyright-free). Just be sure to leave credit.
Title Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Remember to reach out or comment if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. I’m happy to help explain things in more detail if you’re confused on any points. All of the above comes in extremely handy for my business and personal life. I love editing videos, building sales funnels, and automating things by using email autoresponders. I’ll talk to you soon. Remember to stay connected!
Whether you’re inventing a product or you want to create an online course for something you are good at, there are some tools you’ll want to consider investing in. Save yourself hours of YouTube research on these items. Trust me, I’ve already digested hours of footage myself and have summarized the best deals below to make your life easier. Here’s my list of startup necessities:
I personally use the Canon G7X and absolutely love it. You can also check out the Mark II version if you like as well. My photographer friend with fancy cameras like a DSLR bought one for himself and uses it more than any other camera he owns. It’s so lightweight and easy to carry!
Check out the JOBY GorillaPod Flexible Tripod. You’ll see famous vloggers walking around with one of these. It can be used as a selfie stick, wrap around oddly shaped objects, or provide a perfect tripod for you to set up as you record yourself speaking.
Lighting set for product photography or video recording
Whether you’re taking pictures of products or recording footage for an online course, good lighting will be very important. Check out the CowboyStudio Lighting Kit as it’s a true game changer.
My Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 is very helpful when I want to record videos at my computer or even do Skype calls with freelancers I’m working with.
Consider the Blue Yeti USB Microphone for an absolutely amazing mic. I have this set up on my desk to record my podcasts and any other audio where I want the quality to be perfect.
Check out the Dragonpad Pop Filter to reduce the popping sound when you use words that start with the letter “P” in words such as “paper” or “partake.” This stays right in front of my Yeti mic to further clean up the sound.
Save yourself some headaches and get a lapel microphone. I recommend this one from PowerDeWise. I record directly into the Voice Memo app on my phone while I am recording footage on my Canon G7X. I then sync the MP3 track to align with the video. Your camera will record great footage, but without a lapel mic, the camera audio will pick up background noises and echo.
Please feel free to do some extra research on your own. I encourage you to click through the links and check out the Amazon reviews on all my suggested products (they’re all extremely good!). These are absolutely startup necessities if you plan on bootstrapping and doing a lot of the work on your own. Keep in mind that getting agencies or professionals to do any services for you such as photography, video editing, or more will be much more expensive than just purchasing the equipment on your own. Stay tuned for another post coming soon on software I recommend using (both paid and free).